Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women obliges states parties to take all appropriate means to eliminate discrimination against women. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1979. Switzerland ratified the Convention on 27 March 1997. 

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) sets out in detail the prohibition of discrimination against women in all stages of life and obliges states parties to take appropriate measures to this end. 

The Convention:

  • defines discrimination against women

  • provides the basis for realising equality between women and men

  • obliges the states parties to actively adopt measures to achieve equality between women and men

The CEDAW was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1979 and came into force on 3 September 1981. Switzerland ratified the Convention on 27 March 1997. On 26 April 1997 it came into force in Switzerland.

Review mechanism

The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women monitors the implementation of the Convention. The states parties have to report regularly to the Committee on how they are fulfilling their obligations.

Since the ratification of the CEDAW, Switzerland has submitted three reports to the Committee. The most recent was the fourth and fifth combined report in December 2014. The Committee has not yet issued its recommendations in response to the most recent report.

The Federal Office for Gender Equality (FOGE) within the Federal Department of Home Affairs is responsible for Switzerland's country reports on the implementation of its obligations under the Convention. 

UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women  

Optional protocol

On 6 October 1999, the UN adopted an optional protocol to the CEDAW regarding an individual complaints mechanism. The optional protocol came into force on 22 December 2000. 

In specific cases, women can submit individual complaints to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Committee also has the authority to conduct an inquiry in serious cases (Art. 8 of the optional protocol).

Switzerland ratified the optional protocol on 29 September 2008, where it came into force on 29 December that year.

Optional Protocol on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women